AN Oxfordshire farm gearing up for its Christmas orders has hosted a meeting of the British Goose Producers.

Peach Croft Farm, near Abingdon, held the gathering of goose farmers earlier this week on its 700-acre site.

The 80-year-old, award-winning family farm – which has been rearing geese for around 40 years – says it is committed to the welfare of its animals and the traditional techniques used for their production.

Farmers from across the country gathered at the Radley site on Tuesday to see the processes behind the rearing of 2,000 geese and 7,500 turkeys for Christmas.

John Franklin, chairman of the Goose Producers Association, explained: “We are a membership of producers from all over the country, who meet twice a year and have a look around to get some tips, swap ideas and have a discussion.

“This year we are launching new products and talking about how we can be responsible.”

The free-range farm, which has already begun selling its geese ahead of the festive season, says the natural diet fed to its animals produces an ‘excellent flavour’.

Bill Homewood, who owns the farm with his wife, said: “We rear geese and turkeys for the Christmas market very much like we always have done. It works and that’s what the customer wants.

“The process hasn’t changed: for 70, 80 years, we have been doing it the same way. We get a product, grow it to maturity, hand pluck it, hang it to mature in the fridges and then we process them ready for the oven.

“Its rather like hung beef or pheasant, it’s the same principle. It’s not a wet plucking process, it’s a dry process and that allows us to hang the birds - there is a fundamental difference there.”

Mr Homewood showed around 25 farmers the processes he uses to raise, kill, pluck and wax the birds, during a walkabout on the site - owned by Radley College - before serving a lunch.

He aims to get most of the geese to over five KGs in weight for market.

Mr Homewood, the third generation of his family to run the farm, continued: “You can very much taste the difference, we get customers coming back year after year.

“We have got turkeys and geese everywhere, nothing is cooped up, we are very extensive and the animals are on the paddocks. We grow them slowly, to maturity – slow food as opposed to fast food.

“Welfare is top of the list, absolute priority.”

The farm boasts buyers from across the country and as far afield as Jersey, Harrods and butchers that have ‘remained local for three generations’.